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tv   Talk to Al Jazeera  Al Jazeera  August 2, 2014 5:00pm-5:31pm EDT

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al jazeera, seattle . >> when you look at a concept like gaza, people say war is hell. what can you do? >> indisriminate and wrecklets attacks violate the laws of war but the executive director believes calling attention to abuses can make a difference. >> the truth is everybody cares about their reputation in respecting rights. >> ken roth says basic human dignity is one issue among many that factor into global decision
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making only one of which is occasionally human rights. >> here in the united states, human rights watch warns terrorism prosecutions are alienating communities that could aid in prevention. you start scratching the surface and you see that in the huge number of these so-called terrorist plots, there was nothing until the f.b.i. got involved. >> roth says the nsa's extensive surveillance of private communications is harming democracy. >> there are a series of things done in the names of protecting us that are actually violating all of our rights. >> roth also talks about his motivation for getting into human rights work in the first place. finally, in july, 1938, he was able to escape to new york. by growing up and hearing these stories, i was very aware of the ultimate evil which governments are capable of. >> i spoke to ken roth in our
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studios israel soldiers and isr faiths been killed. whiffer is able to conduct ib vefrtgations. i think there is a war is hell an people got killed and that's not the way to look at it. the geneva conventions impose rules that are designed to spare civilians as much as possible. with respect to hamas, they completely prohibit the indisriminate rocket attacks aimed broadly at israel.
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targeting. one case, two dozen civilians killed because maybe there was one militant there. no one would justify an attack like that. israel killing young boys on the beach because they were running away from a structure that was beingshelled as if anybody would stand next to the stricture as it was beingshelled. time after time, we have seen israel violating the rules that say you have to make sure what you are targeting is a legitimate target and only aim at that and only do it in circumstances designed to minimize civilian casualties. israel is violating that left and right. >> which leads me to the question: does israel care? do any of the governments that are involved in these conflicts and they are conflict zones really care become human rights. >> the truth is everybody cares about their reputation in
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respecting it is to state objectively care about their reputation, political consequences of over governments penalizing. war crimes can be prosecuted. >> what are your thoughts on the blockade? and whether that ultimately any work that's going on right now would provide a framework where there could be a discussion of the blockade and what that is doing economically, for example, to the gadsans? >> i think that, you know, hamas's main demand is that the siege be lifted and, you know, israel has legitimate and i will
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legitimate reasons for wanting that siege. the legitimate 1 is to try to stop the import of rockets that are used to indiscriminately shell israi citizens. they are trying to punish the people of gaza for having chosen hamas. where hamas is objecting to the siege is because israel is basically trying to, you know, destroy the gazan economy, preventing import or export of the most basic goods to try to just, you know, harm the gazan people enough so that ultimately, they may choose to get rid of hamas. >> that's wholly inappropriate. >> can we tackle a couple of other hot spots. >> yes. >> what are your thoughts on syria these days and is there any way in the foresee alan future you see any indications, any signs that would give anyone any reason to believe that that
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violence could come to an end any time soon? >> well, my view on syria is that it is going to be a long, long effort to get a negotiated solution. so we can't -- >> 3 plus years now. >> no place cross to it. the geneva two process completely failed. people tube talk to geneva 3. don't hold your breath. >> right. >> the real issue is how do you reduce the harm to civilians. warring parts duke it out. and, you know, there have been some positive steps that have been taken, checkcal weapons. >> the security counsel did authorizes the delivery into the opposition held areas. >> could make a difference in providing food, shelter and medical assistance to people who have were severely deprived. the next big step is how do you stop the barrel bombing of cities that has been assad's
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main way of fighting the war in recent months? and i think the international community show has shown itself capable of putting pressure on the syrian government to stop these kind of atrocities if russia will let it. the key is hour do you pressure russia? how do you make it hurt enough so that russia is the inhuman main ways of fighting this war. >> can you paint a bit of a picture for us of the desperation inside syria among the civilians there? >> take the situation in aleppo. i think of one the father had to calculate the father had to move closer because assad would bea less likely to hit a barrel bomb or is it safer to move away. he chose going toward the front line and his daughter was hit by a sniper. these are the awful life and
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death decisions these are people who are absolutely desperately desperate what are your thoughts on the international community's reaction to? many would say lack of in dealing with acertain ye these three plus years. >> i think the recent difficulty is as isis, the jihadists have become dominant within the armed opposition, there is a decreased willingness on the part of the international community to get involved. >> right. >> and push the syrian military to stop its war against syrian civilians in opposition held areas. >> that's the challenge right now. you know it's hard to find the good guys. >> yeah. >> there are a handful of mod rats within the armed opposition but these people are not in the ascendency. >> that's why i think it's
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important not to take sides so much other than to take the sides of the isis or the government or any other fax not to be targeting civilians as they fight this war. >> can we switch to iraq for a moment? there was a headline a longer piece associated with it. i only has itself to blame for the situation in iraq? >> when the u.s. pulled out of iraq militarily, they did it at a point where they had really. multi-sectarian the jihadists
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had been bringing in. that was lost because the sunnis looks at al-malaki and said this guy doesn't represent us. to the contrary, he is attacking us. he found an increasingly ailientiated population which was willing to turn out of complete desperation to isis. nobody likes isis. >> yeah. >> that was the a lot earnant to al-malaki. >> that's why we have been pushing the u.s. government if it's going to reengage militarily, it's got to insist on a new form of goverance, one i don't think al-malaki is capable of but one which backgroundad represents all iraqis, not just a narrow slice. >> how much influence do you really think you have in the work of your investigators and everyone works with you at human rights watch? how do you see your influence? >> our inflewents. governments look to us for a
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very detailed accurate account of what's going on, on the ground. our researchers are there. and they are able to tell the world. governments real thirsty for that. we ask governments to do something about the abuses. sometimes they are reluctant because human rights are not at the top of their agenda. in those circumstances, part of why they listen to us is because the media pause attention to us. >> yes. >> nobody wants to be embarrassed in the media and all of these governments know that human rights have the capacity to show them when they are terrible abuses and this government cozying up. >> your work, your reporting, getting some solid action and a solid response from a government? >> let me give you an example. >> yeah.
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>> started out where the central african repuck bliss was. investigators on the ground a were able to describe this combination of ethnic, religious, political slaughter taking place at a stage where nobody was looking to get involved in another african conflict so we had to rapidly put out information. overcoming financial objections by the u.s. government and they have authorized 12,000 peacekeepers. >> what leverage do you have? the leverage you have with states. what kind of leverage do you have on non-state actors?
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and i am thinking of isis, isil, to document what they are doing and to maybe coalesce opinion around organizations like that? >> isis is probably the toughest nut to crack. when you have armed groups, they almost always are striving for legitimacy. >> really? thing say we are not going to recruit them further because they want to be seen as a legitimate government entity. you find that in many, many occasions. isis is the exception to that. help us with a working definition we can all grasp and handle of human rights.
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>> trees describing what human rights are and the classic realm of a dictate offership there is something known as the international civil and political rights which defines rights such as the right to free press, the right to free association not to be tortured or summarily executed. a parallel treaty gives things to the right to healthcare or education. varietily every noel government in the world has ratified them. the question is about compliance. >> how has china made western powers less willing to take a strong stand in favor of human rights? >> we have to understand that
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chinese there is a tensed see to -- tendency to downplay human rights in favor of commercial or strategic interests. and that's simply something we just have to fight against. you are seeing this right now, you know, with europe with respect to russia. >> okay. >> you know, where european countries are saying, well, we get our gas from russia and they are a big customer. do we want to purn putten too hard. and we have to fight back. often by enlisting public opinion within europe to give their government a more
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principaled backbone. >> this is pesh. are we at a moment in time what may be just feels to me we are at a moment in time where on the one hand, you have people like you and your good offices and organizations that are fighting for basic dignity and human rights for everyone globally. >> uh-huh. >> then you have these states and these governments that are trying to weigh economic concerns. >> you are, but what i want to stress is that this is nothing new. >>okay. >> governments have always had a range of interests. om one of which occasionally is human rights. >> have we ever been as inter dependent, globally connected economically as we are in this particular realm space and time? >> yeah. we are becoming, you know, a more unified world which is good and bad. it's complicated because there are more and more commercial reasons to ignore human rights. it's good because it's easier to find out what's happening on the other side of the world. >> yes. >> critical for human rights
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enforcement. even if you go back to the cold war, governments at that point had their own reasons, you know, maybe a ba maybe. you need groups like human rights watch. our job is to put the facts on the table and then enlist the public to pressure governments to respect rights but ostensibly, but in ways they find ways to avoid. >> has america lost the moral authority to question other governments on their human rights? >> al jazeera america presents >> i'm pretty burnt out, if i said that i'm perfectly fine, i would be lying. >> 15 stories one incredible journey edge of eighteen coming september only on al jazeera america >> israel's invasion of gaza continues tonight. >> we have been hearing a lot of tank shelling coming from where we are, here. >> every single one of these buildings shook violently. >> for continuing coverage of the israeli / palestinian conflict, stay with al jazeera
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america, your global news leader.
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>> on tech know, >> scientists go up in the sky, >> we're flying over a fracking field in texas >> using ground breaking technology to check air quality down below. >> formaldehyde levels were's bad. >> tech know, every saturday go where science meets humanity. >> this is some of the best driving i've every done, even though i can't see. >> tech know. >> we're here in the vortex. only on al jazeera america. this is ta"talk to al jazee" this week, ken roth, the executive director of human
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rights watch. >> we know that there are active talks right now over iran's nuclear program. do you have concerns that because those talks have taken precedent right now that iran's human rights record over the years is being put to the side, ignored, neglected? >> i have precisely that concern. i think aside from the principal point, i think it's counterproductive to be ignoring human rights because if there were more pressure on iran to respect its people you would find more respect for rhouhani. there is a big splint in governmental circles between the more reformist segment, the
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old-fashioned hard liners and if there were more pressure on human rights, you might find the iranian people better able to express their views and i think the majority of people want out from these sanctions and want a freer existence. >> iran has hundreds of prisoners, political prisoners. >> uh-huh. >> in prisons, the highest per capita rate of discussions in the world. to your point, there needs to be more pressure put on iran on the human rights front and you wonder if these concerns, overshadow the clear violations. >> i think a basic principle for diplomacy is you have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. governments are sophisticated. we may be criticizing the government until enlisting the government to help with the problem, if we could do that
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counter terrorism efforts in this post 9-11 world for the sake of this skushings let's talk about america. >> yes. >> right? and those counter terrorism efforts have compromised america's morale standing in the world? >> they really unfortunately are a series of those. the torture bush initiated, obama's refused to prosecute the torturers, guantanamo guantanamo, the utes of drones. >> drones, yes? >> standards. the nsa's extensive over surveillance of the private communications. a series of things done in the name of protecting us that are actually violating all of our rights. >> in the case of privacy, government we hear it more and more, saying we need to do these things to protect you and what's your response to that? >> you have to push a little. >> that's true. >> you know, one of the claims
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was that the so-called meta data, not the content of your e-mail but to whom you sent the e-mail, you know, basically all of the details around it, including, you know, where you were with your mobile phone. where you traveled, who you called on the phone. all of these elements of your life, none of them are private because you shared them with the phone company. >> right. right. >> their argument. for just, you know, swooping this all up. they said we need to do this to protect you. you are pushing them and saying give us a terrorist plot that would not have been broken but for the massive collection of that meta data? and at first, they say there are a couple of dozen, no problem. then you start probing and you find out there is not one. the best they could come up with was some guy in san diego who wired money to somalia as if they weren't monitoring the bank account. >> that's right. >> they have no track record of using this mass surveil applications. we recognize the importance of
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identifying particular suspects and you can listen in with a court order. without a security justification. talking about the f.b.i. and what the f.b.i. has been doing. targeting very group, we are talking about muslims that need to be enlisted just broke this terrorist plot here, terrible terrorist plot there. you see that in a huge number of these terrorist plots. they convinced them to pursue a mrocht they provided the means and wrested them two problems
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with this. one is that they are wasting resources frankly. they must have better things to do than to con cast they are almost uniformly muslim mothers. this is who the government should try to enlist to find if there are any terrorist plots out there. >> coming up on "talk to "al jazeera america"" i will ask ken roth about his father and his father growing up in nazi germany and how that influenced germany and how that influenced his life. ♪
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this is "talk to "al jazeera americ america". i am tony harris speak with ken roth, the executive director of human rights watch. >> i want you talk to your father and how you came to this work. >> you know, there is never a single reason but a big part, as you mentioned a, is my father who grew up in nazi germany as a young jewish boy, and i then, in turn, grew up with stories of what it was like, you know, worrying about would he be arrested if he rode his bicycle down the sidewalk, how was the family going to get out of germany which was extremely difficult. and he finally, in july, 1938, as a 12-year-old boy was able to evening ate to new york. by pie growing up and hearing these stories, i was very aware of the ultimate evil of governments were capable of and it made me want to devote my life to try to present
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atrocities. you can't help but feel empathy. my father's story launched me in it. but once you are in the human rights effort and you talk to people over and over again and hear what they have had to suffer, you can't help but get but feel empathy. i want to do something about it. what keeps me going day in and day out and i have been doing this for 25 years is knowing we can do something about it. we can take the stories, deploy that information and generate pressure to make better for them. >> that's a huge motivating force. >> a pleasure. >> thank you. >> i am richelle carey. at the top of the hour, the fighting continues in gaza. benjamin netanyahu says the offensive will continue even after hamas tunnels are destroyed. an american doctor who contracted ebola is back in the
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u.s. for treatment. airports around the world are strengthening screening meyers. people in toledo, what the mayor says is being done to clean water. all that straight ahead. lisa fletcher and you're in the stream. shortening the average 9 to 5 , revolutionize the american office. ? >> some teachers are pushing for a homework list classroom. the iq myth. could teaching emotional intelligence be the missing piece in american education? waj ask out. bringing in your feedback,